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Ketamine use on the rise in Belgium: survey

A record number of Belgian respondents to a global drug survey said they took ketamine. Credit: Psymposia

A record number of Belgian respondents to a global drug survey said they took ketamine, confirming a trend spotted by researchers that the dissociative drug is gaining popularity among drug users in the country.

26.7% of Belgian respondents said they had consumed ketamine in the past year. This represents the highest figure ever recorded in the survey and marks a significant hike from the 6.5% to have done so in 2014.

The figures were published in the 2019 Global Drug Survey, an anonymous, opt-in study conducted online and which, according to its authors, particularly targets “young, well-educated people.”

However, the number of Belgians who provided information about their drug consumption habits dropped significantly in the latest survey, as only 536 people took part in the study this year.

While the nature of the survey makes it unfit for establishing representative samples of drug use within a population, its authors say that it is “able to spot emerging drug trends before they enter the general population.”

“Various information sources show a rise in ketamine and this is now confirmed by the highest figure we’ve ever seen,” researchers from the University College Ghent (HOGhent), who led the study in Belgium, told Het Laatste Nieuws.

In an email statement, Tina Van Havere, a lector in HOGhent, confirmed that the use of the dissociative drug was increasing in Flanders.

“We see in different sources that ketamine use is increasing in Flanders,” she wrote, adding that this mostly concerned “[current] drug users who found their way to the drug ketamine.”

Almost 70% of the survey’s Belgian respondents were men, and the median age was 29.6.

Alcohol remains the most popular legal drug in Belgium, with respondents saying they had gotten drunk an average of 34.9 times last year.

Additionally, the study also highlights that a gram of cocaine in Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands is only slightly more expensive than in Latin American countries like Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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